The wave of presidential polls from important battleground states continues today, with Obama receiving far better news than he did yesterday:
- The NBC/WSJ national poll (the first poll taken after Obama embarked on his international trip) finds Obama leading 47% to 41% - the same margin he enjoyed in NBC’s poll mid-June. Respondents said they spent more time thinking about Obama than McCain, 51% to 27%. 60% of respondents (versus 30%) think there should be a timetable for withdrawal.
- In Florida, Rasmussen finds a toss-up, with Obama receiving 46% to McCain’s 45%. When leaners are included, Obama gains one more point, up 49% to 47%. And while his favorability rating remains far inferior to McCain’s (51% to 60%), it is also improving: It was 43-51 last month, 51-47 today.
- In Virginia, it is PPP’s turn to show Obama ever so slightly ahead, 46% to 44%. McCain leads 53% to 36% among whites and Obama is among 77% to 16% among blacks - and he certainly has room to grow there.
- In New Jersey, Monmouth University finds Obama leading 50% to 36%. The previous Monmouth poll was taken in April and had the Democrat leading by 24%.
- Finally, no trouble for Obama in Minnesota, where Rasmussen shows him leading 49% to 37%, 52% to 39% with leaners. Last month, Obama led by 18%. Obama’s favorability rating is very strong here, at 65%.
Florida’s numbers have looked shifty enough in the past few weeks that this latest tightening in Obama’s direction is not surprising. While Florida might be the most GOP-friendly of the major battleground states, the last two polls from the Sunshine state have shown Obama besting McCain by 2% - well within the margin of error. While it is true that recent polls in which McCain has been ahead have had him leading by more than those that have shown Obama narrowly up, a quick look at RCP’s history of Florida polls shows that the long streak of polls with McCain ahead was broken mid-June. Republicans were hoping that they would not have to devote too much time and resources to defend these 27 electoral votes, but it increasingly looks like they will have to.
In Virginia, meanwhile, the 5 most recent polls have been within the margin of error. The McCain campaign finally admitted that it could not count on this state (despite the fact that it has voted GOP since 1964) and is investing resources here. It seems certain that this state will go down to the wire, as both candidates can count on large enough geographical bases that whoever has the best organization could come out ahead. Needless to say that the state’s 13 electoral votes could be enough to tip the balance towards Obama (combined with Iowa and the Kerry states, it would get Obama to 271).
Meanwhile, three Senate polls were released today on top of the two House surveys I mentioned earlier today. All are from states Democrats are contesting:
- In Minnesota, Rasmussen finds a tight race with Norm Coleman at 44% and Al Franken at 43%. When leaners are added, Franken picks up a lot of ground and tops Coleman 49% to 46%.
- In New Hampshire, the reputable UNH survey has surprising news: Jeanne Shaheen’s lead is cut by 8% and she finds herself ahead only 46% to 42%.
- In Virginia, however, no surprises as Mark Warner continues to crush Jim Gilmore, 57% to 32%.
Rasmussen remains the only institute to find the Minnesota Senate race a toss-up, whereas SUSA, Quinnipiac and the University of Minnesota have all found Coleman capturing a clear edge in their recent polls. It is hard to know what to make of this consistent divergence between differing polling groups, but that Franken remains competitive in the face of the tough few months he has had (summarized in a negative ad unleashed today by the Coleman campaign) should be a relief for Democrats worried that they are losing their grip on this race.
The UNH survey of New Hampshire is even more surprising. Not only is it a sharp tightening from the group’s previous poll, but it breaks a long series of polls with Shaheen leading by double digits, including an ARG poll that had her ahead by 22% yesterday. Republicans have long been saying that this race will tighten and this survey is the first data point that suggests all hope is not lost for Sununu. His recovery appears to be due to improving numbers among independents, and this is the one hope Sununu has: McCain’s image is positive enough in the Granite State that he appears to be getting independents (who had massively voted Democratic in 2006) to revisit their hostility towards the GOP. That could be Sununu’s path to an improbable salvation.
Coming up later today: The July Senate rankings.